I started practicing mindfulness several years ago. I don't do it religiously but it has become a practice that decreases my anxiety and helps me focus on positivity.
But there has been another outcome of mindfulness that I was not expecting.
It taught me the Grace of God.
One of the pillars of mindfulness is non-judging. For me, this means that I am allowed to sit in the silence, focused on my breathing, and allow True Me to be me. As many of the guided meditations will say, it is okay if the mind wanders away from time to time. Without judging myself, I can simply notice it and bring my focus back to my breathing.
As I was contemplating this, I realized that this had carried over to many other areas in my life and that I was practicing self-grace and non-condemnation.
This practice was silencing my inner-critic.
"For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world
but that the world should be saved through Him."
John 3:17 (NET)
John 3:16 is one of the first Scriptures that children learn in Sunday School. "For God so loved that world that He sent His one and only Son. That whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."
Okay, that's nice. Sure, that's amazing. That's really great news. Eternal life instead of eternal death? I'm down. But we do our children a great disservice by not teaching them the next verse. THAT is the best news of all.
That's the message of Christmas.
The message that lasts the rest of the year.
Now that the baby has been born, you are free to live in non-judgmental, non-condemned freedom, love, and grace.
God is not in the business of condemnation. He's in the business of salvation, grace, and non-judging. Which, unfortunately, is quite the opposite of what most of those same children are learning from those same teachers.
Mindfulness and the Grace of God
Perhaps it was in my own learning or perhaps it's just that darn inner critic that we all seem to have, but I am in the business of being my own prosecutor and accuser. I condemn myself constantly. I am naturally quick to tell myself that I have failed. Am a failure. It's no use. You'll never succeed. You'll always be this way. You'll never be better. No wonder no one likes you. No wonder you've not reached your goals. No wonder....
Not that any of this is true, mind you. But I start to believe the inner condemnation and it spirals down, down, down... until I'm absolutely loathing myself and wanting to just give up. Life is pointless. Death would be better. Not that I would kill myself but I would welcome death. I'm tired.
Mindfulness has taught me to recognize these early symptoms of depression and self-loathing and to focus on non-judging and grace. On a good day, I can more easily notice the critic's voice. When I hear it, just like my mindfulness practice, I can simply notice it and bring my focus back to non-condemnation. I don't judge myself for having those critical thoughts. It just is. But I have the choice to say no thanks... I'll believe something better today.
The same with when I'm thinking negative thoughts about someone else. Or when I eat too much sugar in a day and I'm feeling miserable. Or when I give in to any of my bad habits.
It just is. It just was.
Now, I can bring myself back to positivity and grace.
Without condemnation and without the spiral of failure.
Now, let me be clear that this does not happen all of the time for me. But I am learning that it is a practice. A really easy practice that takes maybe 5 minutes a day and has had some significant impact on my life and on my spirit.
I truly believe that this is what God wants for us.
I'm quick to believe that my inner critic is the voice of God. That whenever I'm off track, God is the one saying all of those awful, condemning words. See? You're hopeless. Utterly hopeless, Charlie Brown.
But as the Scriptures above remind me that God came to save us from the inner critic.
From the Accuser.
We condemn ourselves, others condemn us. How amazing that God does not. Does Not.
That's the stuff for mediation. Contemplate on that message.
God does not condemn you.
God does not condemn me.
God does not condemn me.
**For help beginning a mindfulness practice, I recommend the app Stop, Breath, & Think. It is a free app with a good list of guided meditations.